Category: "Travel"

My Latest Project

04/19/12 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: Web, Travel

Check out my latest project, Yale Travelogue! A site that let's Yalies old and new alike coordinate travel and connect across the globe. We won 1st in the YCC app challenge yesterday and are excited to continue to improve upon it.


Observations (Pt. 3)

10/17/10 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: The Life, Making Money, Travel

This is a tad belated, but I still wanted to share it with everyone. After working in Germany for 3 months this summer I noticed a lot of differences between my previous positions in America.

Shaking Hands
I was surprised about how often people shook hands. It wasn't so much about the hand-shaking itself, but rather the daily greetings. Everyday when you arrive in the office for the first time, etiquette dictates that you walk around to every co-worker in the department and greet them. Eventually I got more comfortable with the idea. Only a few people actually shook hands with everyone, lots of others did a mix of handshakes and greetings, so I settled into a comfortable mix.

This whole process was often repeated on the way to/from lunch with the Bavarian greeting "Mahlzeit". There's no direct translation, but it's basically a fit-all greeting which is usable around any meal. Awesome. Sidebar, two favorite Bavarian treats: Kaiserschmarrn (Basically mixed pancakes) and Dampfnudel. They eat those as main dishes!!!

Expletives (expect some)
I was a little surprised at the level of profanity in the workplace. There was a lot of shit going down. Sometimes a few other things were slipped in, but seemed like s*** was very commonplace especially in referring to anything that wasn't going terribly well. My feeling from the American workplace was that language like that would generally be restricted to 1-on-1 conversations with very intimate co-workers. Although perhaps I didn't get a good read on the context abroad.

Just to underscore the cultural differences, I felt like I had to spice up my slang with a few choice words there. In contrast, I had a visitor from Germany during high school and was surprised at how much they attempted to swear in English. It got to the point where I couldn't tell if they were actually angry or just trying to accentuate the slang with my friends and I. Swearing, like comedy, just seems to be one of those very nuanced cultural things. I suppose I'm lucky I was on the cautious side!

Work Ethic
Not just ethic, but environment as a whole. I walked in to my office before starting work, and wanted to clarify what the dress code was. They told me there wasn't one. Naturally, I was 90% sure I hadn't understood, but after further questioning, I was sure. OK, so there was no explicit dress code, but I figured I should still wear slacks and a polo. Nope. People were there in shorts, jeans, t-shirts, all kinds of things. Naturally that really sucked, because I had already lugged my entire dress wardrobe across the ocean.

Work hours were also totally lax. I did a pretty standard 8:30 - 5:30. But some people showed up around lunch, and other left around 2pm. There were a couple Fridays where I was literally the only person in the office from 2pm - 6pm. I had a fixed 35 hour work week, but with flex hours. So I often worked late so that I could skip days and go on 5-day trips to other countries.

I never counted anyone else's hours, and of course they get actual vacation days, but I swear only half of the office was there on any given day. This isn't just because of time off though. A large percentage of the people there were either part-time, or work students. I think there were about 6 work-study students, and usually only 2 came in per day (They are restricted to 20 hour weeks during school).

Unfortunately, work-study students made a good deal more cash than I did...which was weird. They also had hourly rates instead of a fixed-hour week, which would have been nice for flexibility. So know that if you go to do an "Internship" in Germany, that means "Praktikum" should check and see if they can hire you as a work student!

Anyways, just some office observation I made. Sorry it's been so long since my last post. School has been incredibly busy, but I'm hoping to at least sneak a few posts in every now and then. Happy Autumn!

Charlie goes East: An American Tail

08/09/10 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: Travel

In order to make the most of my last weekend of Eurail pass validity, I packed my bags and headed East to Vienna and Budapest. Despite a lingering illness, I had a fantastic time. This was my furthest journey east in Europe to date and also one of the longest.

Full story »

Eurail Costs

07/27/10 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: The Life, The World, Travel

A lot of people ask me, is a Eurail pass worth it? Since we covered variable travel costs last post, let's do the fixed travel pass comparison this time.

First, it’s important to research the pass that best fits you. Obviously you get more value the longer your pass is valid for. A one-month global pass is $679, while a three-month is $1189. If you divide this out by weeks, you'll see that you only have to spend ~$100 per week to recoup the 3-month as opposed to over $160 for the one-month.

There are, of course, alternatives. You can get the limited number of days in a certain number of countries variety which will save you some cash. 15 days across 2 months spanning 5 countries (or regions) is only $589.

Even better, there are often ISIC card deals and the saver pass. The new saver pass costs about 1.5x as much as the youth global pass, but enables 2-5 people to travel together. Find four friends and you are doing Europe for dirt cheap. Can you say no brainer?

But unfortunately, no one wanted to come live and travel with you, so you're out on your own trying to find a pass. Probably the most important factor to you is cost. The best way to sum this up is to present my summer travelogue. It's not totally complete, but will give you an idea of what I fit into 3 months while working.

A few notes before diving in. In Italy, I had to pay 10 Euros for a reservation per leg. This ended up taking about 40€ out of the above estimate, still...Italian trains were pretty expensive and helped my pass a lot.

Second, this chart doesn't include small trips in the area I took on regional trains. (Ex. Füssen, Dachau, etc.). Lastly, the ticket is also valid on all S-Bahns in Germany, which I also didn't count (I.E. Potsdam-Berlin)

FrankfurtHannover     49,00€ 
HannoverHamburg     19,00€ 
HamburgOldenburg     29,00€ 
OldenburgHamburg     29,00€ 
HamburgBerlin     39,00€ 
BerlinMünchen     69,00€ 
MünchenNürnberg     19,00€ 
NürnbergWürzburg     19,00€ 
WürzburgParis     89,00€ 
ParisAmsterdam     80,00€***
AmsterdamBonn     29,00€ 
BonnHannover     49,00€ 
HannoverBerlin     29,00€ 
BerlinMünchen     69,00€ 
MünchenSalzburg     19,00€ 
SalzburgHallstatt     22,00€ 
HallstattMünchen     41,00€ 
MünchenPrauge     59,00€ 
PraugeMünchen     59,00€ 
MünchenPadova     59,00€Italy*****
PadovaRome     66,00€ 
RomeFlorence     44,00€ 
FlorenceMünchen     90,00€ 
MünchenVienna     49,00€ 
ViennaBudapest     29,00€ 
BudapestMünchen     49,00€ 
   1.203,00€ $    1.563,90

So the numbers speak for themselves here. I priced these by looking up the cheapest trips I could find for next week. It's possible to find cheaper prices if you book a month or so in advanced, or if you take regional trains all the way, but this list is still pessimistic.

The reason it is, is because I am looking a week ahead for trips in the above table. There were many, many times I didn't know what train I was going to take until I got on it. This is the second biggest advantage to the rail pass, total flexibility. I can literally walk onto any train in Germany and be covered. (Some fast-trains in other countries have required reservations for 2-10€ which you should still get beforehand). I would have paid much much more for certain journeys had I booked only one day in advanced.

As with all things like this. It depends if it's worth it for you. If you plan to spend the entire time travelling...there's no other way to go. Especially if you are travelling with friends...the saver pass is absolutely the best.

As for my case, I made it worth it. And had the Euro not plummeted, it probably would have been even more worth it. The best part for me was having the freedom to decide Friday afternoon where I wanted to go that weekend. This weekend is still wide who knows where I'll end up!

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A collection of musings from my time at Yale along with some thoughts about my "Freshman year of life" in San Francisco.


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